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Prof. Wanda Fries wins 'James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry'

Somerset Community College teacher wins award with her poem, "Annunciation." Another of her works, "Black Dog," was semi-finalist in the competition

By Dave Cazalet, Jr., SCC Director of Public Affairs

New Southerner is pleased to announce that Wanda Fries, an English Professor at Somerset Community College has been awarded the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry.

This is the first year the award has been given. New Southerner plans to make it an annual award to be offered along with the magazine's literary prizes in fiction and nonfiction each fall.

Fries received the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry for her poem "Annunciation." Her poem "Black Dog" was a semi-finalist in the competition. Both poems will be published in the journal's online winter issue and also in print in their anthology published each year.

Fries has twice been the recipient of the Kentucky Arts Council's Al Smith Fellowship. Her stories and poems have appeared in various journals including The Michigan Quarterly Review, Sojourners, River City Review, Wind, and Appalachian Heritage. Fries lives in Somerset with her husband Denny, a geologist, and has two children, Jesse and Megan.

Hall, who died June 25 at his home near Sadieville, Kentucky, was slated to serve as final judge in poetry for this year's contest. His widow, author and poet Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, has agreed to take his place. Her most recent works include Dividing Ridge, a poetry collection, and At the Breakers, a novel.

"Jim's life and work embody New Southerner's spirit and the sense of community and creativity we hope to inspire," said Bobbi Buchanan, editor-in-chief. "We're proud to honor his memory with an annual award in his name."

Hall, 74, was a prolific writer, beloved teacher and critically acclaimed photographer. He authored several poetry collections, including Praeder's Letters and The Mother on the Other Side of the World, as well as the blackly comic coming-of-age novel Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings.

Hall graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1957, earned a master of arts at Stanford, and taught at several universities before becoming an English professor at UK in 1973. He served as director of UK's creative writing program for 25 years and was named Kentucky Poet Laureate in 2001. Among his many awards, Hall received a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Prize and an honorable mention in the San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival.

The New Southerner Literary Contest opened April 1, and submissions of poetry, fiction and nonfiction were accepted through Oct. 1. The winner in each category received $200, publication in the magazine's winter issue online and publication in the annual print anthology.

In addition to Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, this year's final judge in fiction is Janna McMahan (author of Calling Home and The Ocean Inside) and in nonfiction, Cathleen Medwick (author of Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul and contributing editor to O, The Oprah Magazine).

New Southerner is a quarterly online magazine dedicated to promoting self-sufficient living, environmental stewardship and local economies. It seeks to publish relevant articles, art and literature, as well as works by writers with a Southern connection, and works written with a Southern slant or that focus on Southern issues, people and places.

Submission to New Southerner can be made at From the menu, click "Submissions."

This story was posted on 2009-11-06 20:20:16
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Wanda Fries wins James Baker Hall poetry award

2009-11-08 - Somerset, KY - Photo by David Cazalet, Jr. SCC photo. Wanda Fries, an English Professor at Somerset Community College has been awarded the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry by New Southerner
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